“Science doesn’t care what you believe,” declares a 10-by-22 feet billboard that has gone up in Toledo, Ohio, on the corner of Dorr northeast at Reynolds.
A local member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation suggested and generously paid for the billboard message. Lloyd Jones, 80, a retired biology professor from the University of Toledo, was inspired to place the message because: “Right now there’s a lot of anti-science out there and it’s causing people to have mistaken beliefs.” Jones advocates basing opinions on evidence, as does the national association of 38,000 freethinkers (atheists and agnostics) working to keep state and church separate.
Although FFRF has placed billboards in more than half of the states, including a September billboard in Bowling Green as part of its national secular voter campaign, this is its first billboard message in Toledo.
The billboard is an obvious rejoinder to the backlash against Covid-19 vaccination. Atheists have repeatedly been shown to be more likely to be vaccinated for Covid-19 than Christians. A Pew survey in August 2021 of 10,000 Americans shows that white evangelical Protestant Christians are least likely to have been vaccinated for Covid-19 (at 57 percent) and atheists most likely (99 percent).
“We trust in reason and science,” says Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president, “and encourage Americans to do their part to protect themselves and others by staying up to date with the coronavirus vaccinations and boosters.”
As the population grows more nonreligious, freethought messages are increasingly seen in the United States. Currently, 29 percent of adult Americans — almost one in three — are atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” a segment that researchers have dubbed the “Nones.” The “Nones” are currently the largest group by religious identification, surpassing Roman Catholics, Southern Baptists or any other individual sect in America.
The freethought association hopes that the billboard will not only encourage vaccinations, but also points out that the slogan celebrates the power of reason and science to improve this, our only world.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with over 38,000 members and several chapters across the country, including more than 1,000 members and two chapters in Ohio. Our purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.